The Government Will Miss the Deadline to Reunite Separated Kids and Parents
UPDATE, JULY 9: The Trump administration confirmed Monday, July 9, that it would be unable to meet the deadline imposed by US District Court Judge Dana Sabraw to reunite the youngest children in detention with their families. In his initial ruling, Judge Sabraw gave a deadline of July 10 for children four and under, but as of this past weekend, there are still approximately 100 kids under the age of five separated from their parents.
The administration says it can reunify 54 of those children before end of day Tuesday. Some of the children cannot be reunified as their parents have previous criminal records or were removed from an adult who was not their parent.
Additionally, the administration has until July 26 to reunite the approximately 2,000 children over five with their parents.
Original story continues below:
In a hopeful ruling late Tuesday, a federal judge in California has ordered the separation of parents from their children to stop immediately and to have all families that have been separated be reunited within 30 days.
US District Court Judge Dana Sabraw wrote in his ruling that outside of a determination that the parents are unfit to care for their children, no minors crossing the border with their parents should be separated. Sabraw also ordered that all minors under the age of five be reunited with their families within 14 days, and all other minors are to be reunited with their families within 30 days. The order does not stop asylum seekers from being arrested, however.
“This Order does not implicate the Government’s discretionary authority to enforce immigration or other criminal laws, including its decisions to release or detain class members,” Sabraw says in the ruling. “Rather, the Order addresses only the circumstances under which the Government may separate class members from their children, as well as the reunification of class members who are returned to immigration custody upon completion of any criminal proceedings.”
The ruling comes from a case originally filed back in February of this year by the American Civil Liberties Union when a Congolese asylum seeker was separated from her seven-year-old daughter. The case now represents a wider group of asylum seekers.
Sabraw was also deeply critical of the way that the administration has handled the separations as well as detentions overall, pointing to the lack of foresight in maintaining records of which children belonged to which families. “The government readily keeps track of personal property of detainees in criminal and immigration proceedings,” he wrote. “Money, important documents, and automobiles, to name a few, are routinely cataloged, stored, tracked and produced upon a detainees’ release, at all levels—state and federal, citizen and alien.”
“Yet, the government has no system in place to keep track of, provide effective communication with, and promptly produce alien children. The unfortunate reality is that under the present system migrant children are not accounted for with the same efficiency and accuracy as property. Certainly, that cannot satisfy the requirements of due process.”
The judge has set a hearing to follow up with the status of the order for July 6.
(Photo via Spencer Platt/Getty Images)